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“Champion Trees” Exhibit & Preview of Doc Coming to AETN

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  • Carole Adornetto
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In July 2012 AETN Producer Mark Wilcken and Lighting Director, Brent Bailey prepare to film Hot Springs artist Linda Palmer for the upcoming documentary, “Champion Trees.” 

Hello, all! I’m Carole Adornetto and, as AETN’s Executive Producer, I have a great job in an awesome state. I get to meet amazing people and work with extraordinary, dedicated, hard-working producer who like nothing better than finding a good story to tell. When a dear friend introduced me to Hot Springs artist Linda W. Palmer two years ago, who then showed me the special trees she was illustrating, it was a no-brainer. This was a story that had to be told!

One of the hottest days last year was July 26, 2012. It was a scorching 103 degrees as Cinematographer Gabe Mayhan and AETN Producer Mark Wilcken ventured to the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in Birdeye, Arkansas to film the champion Southern Red Oak for the upcoming documentary on champion trees. 

Champion trees are the oldest and largest of their species in Arkansas – real titleholders. These giants are beautiful and majestic, but that’s not the only reason Linda was captured by them. I listened to the “Tree Lady” tell me about her determination to draw all 130 trees, not simply because they are lovely subjects, but so that her art can be a conduit for their preservation and the public’s education. It’s an impressive undertaking by an equally impressive woman.

"Champion Tree: Persimmon" by Linda W. Palmer 

And it’s an undertaking AETN is proud to highlight in our upcoming atrium exhibit in February. This beautiful feature includes 18 large, colored-pencil drawings of champion trees, accompanied by detail drawings of their foliage, documentary photographs of depicted trees and informative text panels. Linda’s ultimate goal is to interpret each champion according to the season of observation, location, historic context and human connection. I can promise you that it’s a thrill to see!

"Champion Trees" Northern Catalpa in December Snowfall

In addition to general admittance to the “Champion Trees” exhibit – open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the AETN Headquarters in Conway – we also are excited to invite you to the opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 1-4 p.m.  This special event will feature an artist’s gallery talk with Linda and, I’m happy to announce,  our own Regional Emmy Award-winning producer Mark Wilcken will preview a portion of his upcoming “Champion Trees” documentary. I could go on forever but, for now, let me just urge you to come to the opening reception and keep checking in with AETN for the latest news. This is a film you won’t want to miss!

“Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey,” Drawings by Linda Williams Palmer, Feb. 17-March 16
“Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey” Opening Reception, Saturday, Feb. 23, 1-4 p.m.